What a lot of people do not know is the fact that nation building is actually not a process that begins and ends at the very heights of national politics. Nation building and national cohesion are never at the level of the Presidency or the National Assembly but from the communal levels of filial relationships and, other such types of associations.
These include, among others, street meetings, the estate associations, the town and village meetings, alumni and the family units. It is at these basic levels that the foundations of nation building can and should be entrenched.
It is at this level that the strong rudiments of civic education, patriotism and cohesion can be built. It is when we get it right at this level that we would now cascade it upwards throughout all levels of government and politics.
This assertion is based on the true maxim, that people own power, and decide at what point who gets it and for how long. That is why you get referendum and public inputs in the forging of a binding constitution.
Today, the school alumnae, if well defined, could play a critical role in nation building. We have seen such alumni like the Kings College Old boys and the role they have played in nation building and the economy.
But sadly, I am witnessing one of the worst experiences in alumni-based community nation building with the Command Secondary School Lagos Alumni, where a group in flagrant disregard of the constitution has gone ahead to form a parallel body as a direct fallout from a fractious election.
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Let me tell you why I believe this is a matter of public interest. Like I have said earlier on, and I stand to be corrected, if we do not get it right at the level of the community, we will never get it right in this country. When an alumni with membership in excess of 11,000 drawn from all over the country, with a global geographical reach, is floating in a miasma of political intrigues mirroring national politics down to the disrespect of the rule of law and entrenched ethos, then you begin to understand why and how things are going the way they do in the nation.
The institutionalization of processes, the firming up of structures and the entrenchment of democratic norms of decision taking, policy advocacy and policy execution can only be the mainstay of a responsible community. It is far easier to instill this at the level of the community because once players at this base level imbibe and understand these they will be better prepared for a national role in leadership. It will be difficult to have them behave like the buccaneers who today lead us.
A fractious election not based on democratic ethos, leading to the weakening of the structures of the association, berths a weak leadership that cannot withstand the onslaught of a divisive population. This has led to the attempt at balkanization and an impossible vibrant response from the leadership as a result of its almost comatose positioning.
Does this look familiar? Now, if the national leadership of the association had the monopoly of the use of force, it would have no other choice than to unleash violence at the people and its opponent because it cannot rely on the structures to ensure cohesion.
This is the sad imagery of our land being perfectly illustrated by the happenings in this once glorious alumni association.
This has strengthened my resolve to work assiduously with fellow Nigerians in ensuring that political education at the communal level, in all of these groupings and associations at the ‘retail’ level be entrenched as a variable part of political education if we are going to have a prayer of genuine change in this country.
We must teach our people at that base level to understand the political processes, its decision-making process, the right to vote and be voted for amongst other salient democratic norms. Otherwise, we will continue to see things like stomach infrastrucre and all other vices throwing up charlatans as leaders.
The lesson of the Command Alumni is staring us in the face squarely, I sincerely hope we will get it right in this country. I really hope.
Author: Joseph Edgar…
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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